Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company (NBET) has come up with the startling revelation that consumers in the first five months of the year consumed about N293 billion worth of electricity, while the distribution companies (Discos) failed to remit N236.5 billion.

Observers say this was part of the reasons the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), came up with the warning that commercial banks providing payment guarantees for the Discos would be held responsible for collections and remittances to NBET and Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).

Although the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), had compelled the Discos to meet a minimum remittance of at least 35 percent, the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company (NBET), disclosed that the Discos had failed to meet the threshold.

The apex bank had, in a circular signed by its director of banking supervision, Bello Hassan, said: “The payment or settlement of all NESI related goods or services shall be made through the Nigerian banking system.

“Consequently, all collections for the payments of NESI regulated goods and services provided by a Disco shall be paid into a designated account such that collections arising from services rendered by the Disco shall be paid into an account in the sole name of the Disco; collections arising from services rendered by a third party/parties on behalf of the Disco shall be paid into an account in the joint name of the Disco and the third-party vendor(s).

“All energy and non-energy collections of Discos, whether cash or cashless, shall only be performed by deposit money banks (DMBs).

“No entity shall be permitted to collect revenues for Discos except if that entity is so authorised by a DMB in line with the relevant CBN guidelines for agent banking and agent banking relationships,” the circular stated in part.”

Collection and remittance of electricity tariff have remained a challenge as the 11 Discos are unable to meet the new minimum payment threshold set by NERC as prerequisite for tariff increases.

The Commission had in its latest minor review of the Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO), mandated Discos to make 100% remittances to market operators, repay CBN loans and, depending on the Disco, remit a stipulated percentage of NBET’s monthly invoices. But the Discos had countered NERC, and sought lawmakers’ intervention, insisting that they would need about N8.7billion to comply with the remittance order.

The Executive Director, Research and Advocacy, Association of Nigeria Electricity Distributor (ANED), Sunday Oduntan, had said that the DisCos would require about N725 million monthly to meet the threshold of the 35 percent remittance level set by NERC.

By Chibisi Ohakah, Abuja

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